What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations. But in some cases, it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations.

This type of steady, all-over anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Other anxiety-related disorders include panic attacks—severe episodes of anxiety which happen in response to specific triggers—and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is marked by persistent intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors (such as hand-washing).

Anxiety so frequently co-occurs with depression that the two are thought to be twin faces of one disorder. Like depression, it strikes twice as many females as males.

Generally, anxiety arises first, often during childhood. Evidence suggests that both biology and environment can contribute to the disorder. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety; however, this does not make development of the condition inevitable. Early traumatic experiences can also reset the body’s normal fear-processing system so that it is hyper-reactive to stress.

The exaggerated worries and expectations of negative outcomes in unknown situations that typify anxiety are often accompanied by physical symptoms. These include muscle tension, headaches, stomach cramps, and frequent urination. Behavioral therapies, with or without medication to control symptoms, have proved highly effective against anxiety, especially in children.

Recent posts on Anxiety

Trump and Clinton Debate Public Speaking Strategies

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on September 25, 2016 in Intentional Insights
Trump and Clinton use research-based strategies to inform their debate and public speaking skills - and now you can use the same to be a better public speaker!

Protesting against Big Pharma is One Thing

The new drugs, on the whole, have been a blessing, and it is unnerving to see the whole psychopharmacological enterprise now trashed in an indiscriminate manner.

The Truth Shall Set You Free — Except When It Doesn’t

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on September 24, 2016 in Excellent Beauty
Uncertainty can be more deadly than certainty. But certainty is what the law is looking for. But why, when it is such a rare commodity?

How to Make Things Better by Making Them Worse

By Clifford N Lazarus Ph.D. on September 23, 2016 in Think Well
While it's counter intuitive, sometimes to make things better we first have to make them worse. Here's how to understand and use the power of paradox to solve many problems.
ID 1563078 © Rayna Canedy | Dreamstime.com

How the Words You Use Can Decrease Anxiety

By Richard Taite on September 23, 2016 in Ending Addiction for Good
A healthy concern for your well-being can make you more likely to anticipate and effectively head-off possible threats.

The Secret to Great First Impressions

By Keith Rollag Ph.D. on September 22, 2016 in Being Good at Being New
Struggle with networking? Here is a simple but powerful approach to make your more confident and successful.
Flickr/Joe Penna

5 Ways to Deal With Anniversary Reactions

By Ellen Hendriksen, Ph.D. on September 22, 2016 in How to Be Yourself
Anniversary reactions are distressing and very real. Here's what you can do when anniversary memories are anything but silver or gold.

Learning From Chris Sharma

By Reid Wilson Ph.D. on September 21, 2016 in All about Anxiety
What a no-ropes rock climber can teach us about tackling our Anxiety.

An Insecure Childhood Affects How You Deal With Adult Stress

By Douglas LaBier Ph.D. on September 21, 2016 in The New Resilience
If you experienced insecurity in your relationship with your parents, you're likely to have difficulty when faced with stressful decisions or situations.
Bob Mayer

Don’t Just ‘Face’ Fear: Attack the Ambush

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on September 21, 2016 in Shadow Boxing
Author Bob Mayer offers writers strong advice from battlefield training.

The Risks of Joy

By Joseph Burgo Ph.D. on September 20, 2016 in Shame
The potential experience of joy threatens the emergence of shame and must be avoided at all costs. Heavy defenses against shame thus limit the opportunity to experience joy in life

This Is What a Panic Attack Feels Like

Imagine waking up in the morning, driving to work, and going about your day when all of a sudden you feel a sudden rush of overwhelming, intense anxiety.

Australian Family Suffer Bizarre Shared Delusion

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on September 19, 2016 in It's Catching
From Out of the Shadows: Small Group Panics are Little Studied Events that Continue to make Headlines

Diversity and Inclusiveness Is Good For Your Well-being

Being intolerant of people who are different to you may be bad for your well-being; results for 8 different aspects of well-being.

How Anxiety Hurts Your Health

By Temma Ehrenfeld on September 18, 2016 in Open Gently
Asthma, stomach problems and heart disease are all aggravated by anxiety.

How Self-Initiated Laughter Can Make You Feel Better

By Christopher Bergland on September 18, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
William James once said, "We don't laugh because we're happy, we're happy because we laugh." New research confirms that laughter improves psychological and physical well-being.

Conquer Public Speaking Anxiety Via Emotional Intelligence

By Gleb Tsipursky Ph.D. on September 17, 2016 in Intentional Insights
A few tips will go a long way to addressing any anxiety around public speaking

How Your Cellphone Is Like a Teddy Bear

Do you ever wonder if you’re too dependent on your cellphone? Are you distraught when you misplace it? New research suggests how attachment style affects our cellphone behavior.

7 Ways Yoga Lowers Stress and Anxiety

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on September 15, 2016 in Think, Act, Be
No surprise here: yoga relieves anxiety. But how? We consider 7 ways yoga can help us better manage stress and anxiety.

How Scientists, Too, Can Be Stubborn and Wrong

Ever been troubled by a reversal in scientific opinion? Psychological biases may be part of the problem.

Do You Confide in Your Dog More Than With Family Members?

By Stanley Coren Ph.D., F.R.S.C. on September 14, 2016 in Canine Corner
New data shows that people confide in their dog during times of adversity but only about certain specific emotions

Listen To Your Heart

By Gaby Pfeifer, Ph.D. on September 14, 2016 in Mind Growth
Our ability to listen to internal bodily signals, such as our heartbeat, is known as interoception. How does interoception contribute to our emotional experiences?

Wisdom in the White House and Older Presidents

By Alan Castel Ph.D. on September 13, 2016 in Metacognition and the Mind
Should we be concerned and/or excited about older-aged presidents in the White House, as old age is associated with wisdom?

Getting It Off Your Chest

By Eric Newhouse on September 13, 2016 in Invisible Wounds
Julie Davey is a journalism professor who has been teaching cancer survivors and U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton how to write about their traumas as therapy.

5 Ways to Tell if You Have Cyberchondria

With the surge in online health websites, cyberchondria may be reaching epidemic proportions. New research shows how to tell if you’ve got this increasingly common ailment.

Therapy Without a Therapist?

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on September 13, 2016 in Think, Act, Be
Learning and practicing new skills is at the heart of CBT—whether you're working with a therapist or on your own.

Are Food Bloggers Giving You Anxiety?

By Goal Auzeen Saedi Ph.D. on September 12, 2016 in Millennial Media
Promises of "quick" and "easy" tantalizing treats got you in a tizzy? Step away from the blender, breathe and remember that even the Pinterest-worthy photos are not always real.

Is it Time to Unclutter Your Social Network?

Is your circle of friends more like a chaos of clutter?

Panic: A Workable Approach

By Susan Rako M.D. on September 12, 2016 in More Light
The symptom of panic escalates urgency and creates drama. We can de-escalate and ground our patient into useful therapeutic work with this effective approach.

The Terrorist Attacks of September 11 as Psychological Toxin

By Monica N. Starkman M.D. on September 11, 2016 in On Call
…and their long-lasting and serious side-effects.